Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Chrysopilus thoracicus - Golden-backed Snipe Fly

flying insect - Chrysopilus thoracicus Snipe Fly? - Chrysopilus thoracicus gold-banded fly - Chrysopilus thoracicus - male Bee Mimic - Robberfly? - Chrysopilus thoracicus Golden-backed Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus thoracicus) - Chrysopilus thoracicus - male Chrysopilus thoracicus Fly ? - Chrysopilus thoracicus Gold Caped Fly with black wings - Chrysopilus thoracicus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Orthorrhapha)
Infraorder Tabanomorpha
Family Rhagionidae (Snipe Flies)
Genus Chrysopilus
Species thoracicus (Golden-backed Snipe Fly)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Chrysopilus thoracicus Fabricius, 1805
Explanation of Names
Genus name Chrysopilus means "golden-hair" and thoracicus refers to the golden patch on the thorax, presumably.
10 mm (approx.)
Larger than a house fly with distinctive smoky-colored wings and gold patch on upper thorax.

Another recognized species, C. davisi, is very similar but lacks the silvery hairs on the abdomen. C. thoracicus and C. davisi seem to represented here, but they could be the same species. See for both forms mating.
Eastern North America
Deciduous woodlands
Spring. April-May (North Carolina).
Adults are alleged to be predatory on other insects, but they may feed little (observations by BugGuide members).
Life Cycle
Details unknown. This fly is observed in early to mid-spring perched quietly on low vegetation in deciduous woodlands.
The coloration (dark wings, gold thorax)is perhaps mimicry of a hymenopteran. Another Chrysopilus species (see Milne and Milne, below) appears to be a very good hymenopteran mimic, with a prominently striped abdomen.
Print References
Brimley, p. 330 (1)
Eaton and Kaufman, p. 286-287, color photo (2)
Lutz, Field Book of American Insects (3)
Marshall, p. 445--color photo (4)
Milne and Milne illustrate a related Chrysopilus species, the common name "Golden-backed Snipe Fly" (5)
Internet References
Giff Beaton--scroll down page for Snipe Flies
Works Cited
1.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
2.Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Eric Eaton, Kenn Kaufman. 2006. Houghton Mifflin.
3.Field Book of Insects of the United States and Canada, Aiming to Answer Common Questions,
Frank Eugene Lutz. 1935. Putnam Pub Group.
4.Insects: Their Natural History And Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America
Stephen A. Marshall. 2006. Firefly Books Ltd.
5.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.